Pennsylvania Ignition Interlock Limited License Program

On August 25, 2017, many of the important features of the new Pennsylvania Ignition Interlock Limited License Law (2016 Act 33) will go into effect. This law will substantially change the nature of many DUI-related license suspensions by enabling motorists to obtain an Ignition Interlock Limited License (an “IILL”) so that they can continue to drive.

For example, a first-time DUI offender in the middle tier (that is, with a blood alcohol content of between .10 percent and .16 percent) can avoid the standard one-year license suspension by installing an Ignition Interlock device and obtaining the Ignition Interlock Limited License.

If you have been arrested for a DUI while in Pennsylvania, it is important to contact a Pennsylvania DUI attorney to understand how the Ignition Interlock Limited License may affect your driver’s license.

Ignition Interlock vs. Occupational Limited License

Prior to this new law, certain motorists could obtain an Occupational Limited License (an “OLL”). The OLL enabled people who qualified to drive so long as it was to or from work or for work-related purposes.

This new law will eliminate the OLL for people with DUI-related license suspensions. Going forward, the Ignition Interlock Limited License will be the only way for people to avoid statutory DUI-related license suspensions.

This new law will be good news for many people with a DUI-related license suspension. Many more people will be eligible for the Ignition Interlock Limited License as opposed to the Occupational Limited License. The OLL was only available for first-time DUI offenders and was not available for people with second or subsequent DUI conviction or for people who lost their licenses based on a “refusal” to submit to chemical testing. The Ignition Interlock Limited License, however, will be available for people with such license suspensions.

If you have been charged with a DUI please contact Montgomery County, PA DUI Defense Lawyer Henry S. Hilles, III at 610-270-8800.

PA’s Three-Tier DUI Penalty Structure

Under Pennsylvania law, penalties for DUI offenses are based largely on a person’s blood alcohol content (“BAC”) at the time of the offense. The penalties are based on a three-tier system — the lowest tier is for those with a BAC of .08 to .099 percent, the middle tier is for those with a BAC of .10 to .159 percent, and the highest tier is for those with a BAC .06 percent and above.

The specific conditions of the Ignition Interlock Limited License — meaning when a person may qualify for the license and how long they must have the interlock system — is also based on the three-tier system.

Lowest Tier DUI Offenses – .08-.099% BAC (and “General Impairment” DUI)

•1st Offense: No license suspension or ignition interlock requirement.

•2nd Offense: 12 month suspension imposed, must serve 6 months of suspension before qualifying for IILL.

•3rd or Subsequent Offense: 12 month suspension imposed, must serve 9 months of suspension before qualifying for IILL.

Middle Tier Offenses – .10-.159% BAC (and some Lower Tier DUIs with Accidents)     

•1st Offense: 12 month suspension with immediate eligibility for IILL

•2nd Offense: 12 month suspension imposed, must serve 6 months of suspension before qualifying for IILL

•3rd or Subsequent Offense: 18 month suspension imposed, must serve 9 months of suspension before qualifying for IILL

Highest Tier Offenses – .16+% BAC (and DUI with Drugs and DUI Refusals)

1st Offense: 18 month suspension with immediate eligibility for IILL

•2nd Offense: 18 month suspension imposed, must serve 9 months of suspension before qualifying for IILL

•3rd or Subsequent Offense: 18 month suspension imposed, must serve 9 months of suspension before qualifying for IILL

Chemical Test Refusals (DUI when the motorist “refuses” to take a blood/breath test)

1st Offense: 12 month suspension imposed, must serve 6 months of suspension before qualifying for IILL

•2nd Offense: 18 month suspension imposed, must serve 9 months of suspension before qualifying for IILL

•3rd or Subsequent Offense: 18 month suspension imposed, must serve 9 months of suspension before qualifying for IILL

How to Get an Ignition Interlock Limited License

To apply for an Ignition Interlock Limited License, an applicant must submit an application by certified mail with PennDOT including proof that ignition interlock equipment has been installed on all vehicles that the applicant will drive. The applicant must surrender his or her license (unless of course it has already been suspended), provide proof of insurance and pay an application fee of $65. After receiving the application, PennDOT has 20 days to issue the license or deny the application.

Eligibility for an Ignition Interlock Limited License

To be eligible for an Ignition Interlock Limited License, an applicant must:

•Be suspended or revoked for a DUI occurring in Pennsylvania, or a similar offense in another state; or

•Be suspended or revoked for refusing a chemical (blood/ breath) test; and•Provide proof to PennDOT that any vehicle the applicant intends to drive individual is equipped with an approved ignition interlock system.

Who is NOT eligible to obtain an Ignition Interlock Limited License

Under the new law, effective August 25, 2017, a person will NOT be eligible to obtain an Ignition Interlock Limited License if the applicant:

•Was not previously licensed in Pennsylvania or any state;

•Is required to take an driver’s examination;

•Has his or her driving privileges cancelled, revoked or recalled;

•Has an unsatisfied judgment as a result of a motor vehicle accident;

•Intends to use the IILL for operating a commercial vehicle;

•Is disqualified under the Commercial Motor Vehicle Safety Act or the Motor Carrier Safety Improvement Act; or

•Is suspended for Homicide by Vehicle (“HBV”) or HBV DUI-Related.

ARD (Accelerated Rehabilitation Disposition) and the Ignition Interlock Limited License

ARD is a pretrial diversionary program for first-time, non-violent offenders which allows a person to enter and complete the “program” as opposed to going to trial — or pleading guilty — and facing a criminal conviction. Graduates of the ARD Program avoid incarceration, receive a greatly-reduced license suspension (on DUI cases) and earn a dismissal of the charges (which may then be expunged).

ARD participants do NOT qualify for the Ignition Interlock Limited License and, accordingly, must serve a license suspension in full. The rationale for this is apparently that even though ARD related license suspensions, by law, may be as high as 12 months, most participants receive a reduced license suspension of one or two months making the Ignition Interlock Limited License unnecessary.

What is an Ignition Interlock Device?

An ignition interlock is a small device, installed into a motor vehicles, that a motorist must blow into before starting the vehicle. If the device detects alcohol, it will prevent the vehicle from starting. The ignition interlock device will also prompt the driver to blow into the device during the operation to the vehicle to ensure they are not under the influence.

Revocation of an Ignition Interlock Limited License

If a person with an Ignition Interlock Limited License is convicted of any offense that carries a driver’s license suspension, or fails to comply with the requirements of a treatment program (such as any recommendation of the Court Reporting Network — CRN — Evaluation)  PennDOT may recall the IILL or extend the IILL requirements for an additional period up to the original length of suspension. For example, a first DUI offender who fails to complete court-ordered treatment faces an original 12-month suspension, and an additional IILL extension for a total of 24 months.

Contact a Montgomery County PA DUI Lawyer

If you or a loved one have been charged with a second offense DUI in Pennsylvania and are concerned about the consequences and alternatives contact the Law Office of Henry S. Hilles, III. Mr. Hilles has many years experience handling DUIs in Montgomery County and Southeastern Pennsylvania. Mr. Hilles understands what you are going through and will help you understand your rights and options and obtain the best possible result. Mr. Hilles has an office in Norristown, Pennsylvania in Montgomery County he can be reached by dialing 610-270-8800.